WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Deb Fischer, a member of the Senate Commerce Committee and chairman of the Subcommittee on Transportation and Safety, joined the Railroad Employee Equality and Fairness Act, which would end the sequester on the Railroad Retirement Board’s (RRB) Unemployment Insurance Account.
“Like many Americans, railroaders are facing significant challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic. These challenges are worsened by a harmful reduction of their regular unemployment and sickness benefits no other industry faces. This bipartisan legislation rights that wrong and makes sure railroaders receive these critical benefits they deserve in full,” said Senator Fischer.
The Railroad Employee Equality and Fairness Act was introduced by Senators Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.)
Railroad unemployment and sickness benefits are funded solely by railroads’ and railroad workers’ contributions. The Budget Control Act of 2011 and subsequent implementation mandates require railroad unemployment and sickness benefits to be reduced by a certain percentage each year. All other regular unemployment benefits are exempt from sequestration. Without this legislation, sequestration will likely result in a 5.7 percent reduction in railroad unemployment and sickness benefits through fiscal year 2030. This is particularly concerning during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. In 2019, the Railroad Retirement Board (RRB) received 35,030 unemployment claims. As of September 2020, the RRB has received 133,899 claims, nearly a fourfold increase.